Like a lot of guys, I’ve always been fascinated with U.S. military arms and especially those used during World War II. Growing up as a kid in the late ’40s and ’50s, I was surrounded by family members, neighbors, and teachers who were veterans of that conflict. I also must have watched a gazillion old wartime films. All that definitely had an effect on a very impressionable kid.
By the age of 10 I knew quite a bit about the M1 Garand even though I had never actually seen or touched one. All that was important was that I knew with the absolute certainty that only a 10-year-old kid can have that it was the best rifle in the world, bar none!
I got my first rifle, a .22, shortly before my 11th birthday. It was a Winchester Model 67A and was the ideal rifle for a kid my age. I still wanted a Garand, but as I became more aware of the real world of dollars and cents, I realized I couldn’t afford to shoot one even if I somehow got it. Those fifty-cent boxes of .22 ammo were all I could afford in those rare moments when I was flush with cash.
As an adult I’ve had the good fortune to own quite a few M1 Garands. Their attraction has never diminished. While I can now certainly afford to shoot my Garands, I still think back to my childhood and how I was limited to the .22 rimfire for so many years. In the back of my mind was the idea that a .22 Garand would really have been neat. I can remember seeing ads for .22 trainers like the .22 conversions of the Lee Enfield used by the British. Something similar to that with the Garand sure would have been nice.
It wasn’t until I had an opportunity to talk with Stephen Sanetti, who at that time was the head of Ruger, that this idea of a .22 rimfire Garand really took root. I had shown Sanetti an M1 Carbine that I had made from a 10/22, and he asked if I thought I could do the same thing with a Garand. That started the ol’ wheels turning, and ultimately I put together a 10/22 conversion that looked like a slightly reduced-size Garand.
It was an interesting project, but as I look back on it, I realize there were things I could have done differently. I mentioned this to Joel Hutchcroft and Joseph von Benedikt, the editors here at Shooting Times, and they encouraged me to build another one, this time doing it for our Shooting Times readers. So…here goes. By the way, this will be a multiple-part series.
Obviously, you’ll need a Ruger 10/22. It doesn’t matter what specific model you have or whether it’s new or used. The only parts of the Ruger you’ll be keeping are the complete action, the barrel clamp and screws, and the takedown screw. Everything else will be discarded.
As for Garand parts, you’ll need a barrel, all the stock components, a gas cylinder and front sight assembly, the gas cylinder lock, and the trigger housing. In collecting these items, please don’t go with good condition original G.I. parts. This is the ideal place to use junk or worn parts. My Garand barrel, for example, has a terrible bore and is no longer suitable for use. I got mine from Numrich Gun Parts, which was selling the barrel for folks building display guns. Since I’ll be converting it to .22 rimfire with a liner, the condition of the bore is definitely not an issue. Besides, you can often pick up junk or worthless parts for little or nothing. Often, all you have to do is just ask.
Fitting The Barrel
The first step is to fit the Garand barrel to the Ruger receiver. The threaded shank of the Garand barrel is turned down to a diameter of 0.685 inch, duplicating the original 10/22 barrel. However, this alone will not allow the Garand barrel to slip into the Ruger receiver. You have to also turn down the next 1.25 inches of the barrel shank to a diameter of 0.920 inch to allow for clearance for the barrel clamp base on the front of the receiver. Don’t worry about this unsightly step in the Garand barrel because it will be hidden under the rear handguard.
The Garand barrel with the gas cylinder and front sight in place is then fitted to the receiver. Having the front sight on the barrel makes it much easier to align and ensure that the sight will not be canted to the side. A small machinist level is a great aid in helping to check your work. A standard 12-24 screw is used in the barrel clamp base to press against the barrel and hold it firmly while a dovetail is filed by hand into the barrel, for the barrel clamp. While filing the clamping dovetail, I frequently check my progress by comparing it to the dovetail in the 10/22 barrel and by checking the fit of the clamping block. Once the dovetail is completed, I use a Dremel hand tool to grind two relief grooves in the Garand barrel for the heads of the screws used in the clamping block. These grooves make insertion and removal of the clamping screws much easier.
With all that work done, I install the barrel along with the two handguards and the gas cylinder assembly. I do this to check the fit and appearance of the barrel assembly. In a conversion like this, you’ll want to check your work frequently. If something goes wrong, you want to catch it quickly, and you can do this by checking your work often.
Lining The Barrel
The next step is to install a Brownells (www.brownells.com) .22 rimfire barrel liner in the Garand bar
rel. Since the .30-06 chamber is a larger diameter than the liner, the chamber has to be filled after drilling it out to 31/64 inch. I use a section of scrapped .30-caliber barrel for this step. I also use it to extend the shank of the barrel that fits into the receiver to a length of 0.746 inch to match that of the 10/22 barrel. Once the chamber filler is made, I can epoxy it in place. After the epoxy has cured, the barrel and chamber filler are drilled for the Brownells liner.
After degreasing the newly drilled bore of the Garand barrel as well as the liner, the liner is coated with epoxy and inserted into the barrel. There are a couple of important points to keep in mind when doing this. First, make sure the liner is not reversed. The breech end of the liner should always be at the breech end of your barrel! Second, use small wood plugs in the liner to prevent any epoxy from entering the liner bore. You definitely don’t want epoxy inside your .22 liner!
Next month I’ll chamber and headspace the .22 barrel and fit the Ruger barreled receiver to a modified Garand stock. Until then, good luck and good gunsmithing!
Read Part 2 of the build HERE